More than a thousand people, from the homeless to paroled prisoners to refugees to impoverished children, were treated to a day at the circus Thursday in Rome, courtesy of Pope Francis.
The Vatican ferried the guests to the big-top show on the outskirts of Rome, the latest gesture of affection for the poor and needy, which has been a hallmark of Francis' papacy.
Francis did not attend the show, but the audience was treated to such typical circus acts as knife throwing, prancing white horses and singing.
One of the attendees, a homeless Polish man called Marek, said the event satisfied the common need for "a bit of fun."
"We can't always be sad for the things that have happened. We need to be able to find a small, small space to be lighthearted," he said.
The event also offered showers, shaves and medical care in St. Peter's Square for the homeless and needy.
The owner of the Rony Roller Circus called Thursday's show a very emotional one.
Francis met with a group of circus performers last year, saying they "create beauty" that is good for the soul.
Some information for this report came from Reuters.